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Spicules help resist fractures: sponges

The spicules of sponges help prevent cracking via their long, thin shape and orientation transverse to load direction.

"That comment about thin elastin fibers brings up still another way not to crack, one implied in the words about thin glass filaments…Use materials that are divided transversely to the direction of the load into thin fibers or filaments or, for bending loads…into layered sheets. Most sponges, for instance, incorporate tiny elongate spicules of calcium salts or glass, which provide stiffness with good material economy and little risk of fracture…For the values of the work of fracture and strain energy storage of the materials available to nature, fibers in the range of 1-10 micrometers in diameter correspond to the critical crack length range and so are especially appropriate." (Vogel 2003:337)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Concrete and other building materials that better resist fractures, ceramics that resist fracture, cans and other packaging that fracture more easily (maybe to save energy during recycling?).

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction, ceramics, materials science

Vogel S. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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